Twenty years ago, I proposed a craft book on recycling, to my then publisher, and was met with derision and the following comment :
“ Why would anyone buy an expensive hardback book on recycling”.
Eventually I was proved to be right, and they were wrong, but my timing was very bad. So I was wrong. As with most things in life, oh best beloved, timing is critical.
Quite a while after this friendly exchange with mu publisher, Emily Chalmers wrote a very successful interiors book full of recycled furniture and boot fair finds called ‘Cheap chic’ and followed it with ‘Flea market style’ and and more recently ‘Modern vintage style’ .
We are now in the twenty first century in the fifth year of recession with the world and her husband making do, mending and finding her inner craft goddess.
A recycling book appears on my desk weekly or perhaps that should read ‘weakly’, for there is, as in all design, a great variety in both style and taste.
Sometimes I wonder if the authors, editors and publishers ever consider whether or not anybody actually wants to make the projects presented. My other bug bear is that many of these books feel and look the same, with many of the same projects in them and so it is hard to distinguish one from another.
This leads me on to what is often a problem for a book reviewer, do you:
A- Praise everything or at least find something worthy of praise.
B- Slate the book and risk never being sent a book again by that publisher.
C- Make comparisons between books.
D- Don’t review as the book at all as it is so awful.
As a craft author myself I am very aware of the amount of effort put into a book to make it work. The initial ideas, the making, sometimes doing step by step samples, the writing, the styling and photographing. This usually has to be done at speed, as publishers can be very slow at making decisions but, once made, they will want the book yesterday.
So after all that strain and heartache you do not want some reviewer saying how awful your book is.
Tinkered Treasures is a very pretty cutesy craft book written by American blogger and journalist Elyse Major . Unlike many books on recycling, that look be a bit grey and grungy, this is clean, bright and pretty. Most of the projects feature white back grounds with pale and rose pink embellishments.
Tinkering is a way of transforming mundane household objects into charming items of beauty. Elsye has rescued and salvaged fabrics, glass jars, old fabrics, match boxes and dolly pegs and made something new and lovely with them. There are 35 projects in this book and at £12.99 it represents good value for money. I think this book would be a perfect present for a ‘tweenager’ or someone starting out crafting, who loves pretty little things and needs some guidance on how to make them.
£12.99 from Cico Books
Junk Genius stylish ways to re-purpose everyday objects, with over 80 projects and ideas by Juliette Goggin and Stacy Sirk. This is one of the better books of its genre. It feels genuine, the two authors worked together before setting out to write this book. As they say in their introduction we had four main aims. We wanted to pass on our accumulated knowledge and love of crafting as well as inspiring readers to try something different, find new kinds of treasures and possibilities, and develop or rediscover a love of making things.
The book opens with some suggestions on junk finding and then there is a list of 40 common items that can be made over, these include such diverse items as old photo’s, lamp shade fames, tape measures neck ties, old tin cans, tea towels, china etc….
Most of the projects in this book you would want to make, such as the cushions from old needlepoints, and the tart pan tower. The lamp shade coffee tables are ingenious.
I liked some of the jewellery – the monopoly counter charm bracelet and another fashioned from old thimbles.
The kilt pin brooches look good too as do the ceramic door knob hooks. Less successful is the ingenious gift wrap, ceramic plant markers, tureen planters and jam jar sewing sets all of which I have seen too many times before.
£19.99 from Cico books
using salvaged materials to create an elegant home
by Maria Speake and Adam Hills of Retrouvius.
Maria and Adam met while studying architecture at Glasgow School of Art.
After graduating they became involved in the local architectural conservation scene and set up their architectural salvage company Retrouvius in the early 1990’s. The popularity of their warehouse led on to their setting up their own design practice refurbishing domestic interiors using salvaged materials. This book is a showcase for their work and an inspirational book for anyone wishing to do their own renovations. Buildings showcased include a Medieval Priory,a nineteenth century traveller’s caravan,
a refurbished barn, a former factory, a georgian farmhouse plus the usual apartments and town houses. This is not a how to book, there are no step by step instructions but it is a lovely ideas book
£19.99 from Rylands Peters and Small
creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect
This book by Sibella Court is an inspiration. In essence it displays collections of different objects.
‘A Bowerbird is an Australian native bird that builds a reedy ground nest and goes to extraordinary lengths to decorate it with stolen goods and found objects such as shells, bones, pegs and shiny milk caps. I have been a Bowerbird and like to think of myself as a finder, keeper & curator of collections of beautiful things. ‘ says Sibella.
This is ultimately a coffee table book, It is quite beautiful and very inspirational. It reminds me of a warehouse I visited in, the flea market district of, Paris full of the strangest objects displayed together to make visual statements.
Bowerbird from Hardie grant books